Cole Custer wins Gateway truck race after Crafton, Jones wreck late
Cole Custer did what any teenager would do with a little extra time on his hands on a Saturday night.
The NASCAR World Camping Truck Series driver traded gossip with friends and grabbed a bite to eat during a 1 hour, 57 rain delay prior to the start of the 200-mile event at Gateway Motorsports Park outside of St. Louis.
"I just sort of hung out with the guys, went back to the trailer, and had a little mac and cheese," Custer said. "It was a long wait, but it wasn't that tough."
Properly prepared, the 17-year-old native of Ladera Ranch, California, went out and won his first race of the season after passing Tyler Reddick on a restart on the 155th lap of the 160-lap event held on a 1.25-mile oval.
Spencer Gallagher was second. Veteran Johnny Sauter finished third.
Matt Crafton, the series leader, finished 21st, but maintained a 12-point lead over Reddick after the eighth race of the 22-race series. Reddick finished eighth.
Erik Jones led the most laps in the race, but a late accident forced him to a 23rd-place finish.
Custer started racing quarter midgets at age 4. He showed the poise of a veteran with a slick move on the restart down the stretch.
"I got a pretty good jump," Custer said. "We were able to get the lead and finish out the race."
Custer races a Chevrolet Silverado for Haas Automation.
"He's really mature for his age," said his crew chief Joe Shear Jr. "When we tell him to go, he goes."
The race featured nine lead changes and five different leaders.
Custer, who has a win and two top-10 finishes in three truck races this season, sat in eighth place at the midway mark of the race. He was fourth with 10 laps left before making a strong move at the right time.
"The race kind of fell into our laps and went our way," Custer said. "Sometimes you win them that way and sometimes you lose them that way."
Gallagher recorded the best truck performance of his career and led all rookies with the second-place showing.
"We had a real up-and-down night," Gallagher said. "But we pushed ourselves up there and we were able to hold off (Sauter)."
Brandon Jones, 18, skipped his graduation ceremonies at Lake Norman High in Lake Norman, North Carolina, to compete in the race. He finished 12th. Track officials had his diploma flown in. It was given to him during the driver introductions before the race.